Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tilton & Proctor Capture NEPSAC Championships

It was 'Championship Sunday' at Noble and Greenough School for NEPSAC girls basketball. The championship games were played on the main court and the all-star games were played on the lower gym.

There were lots of local players in action. Dartmouth commit Gabrielle Hunter (Bedford, NH), Mayson Kimball (Penacook, NH) and Ashley Berube (Londonderry, NH) helped lead the Tilton School to a 62-52 win over Berkshire in the Class B championship game.

Meanwhile, the duo of point guard Amanda Torres (Hudson, NH) and forward Angelique Ngalakulondi (Manchester, NH) helped lead Proctor Academy to a 61-45 win over Lexington Christian School in the Class C finals. Ngalakulondi, a 6-foot-1 freshman, was named Class C tournament MVP. Mikala Eacrett (Londonderry, NH) who is also only a freshman, started and played well for Proctor.

Additionally, University of Miami Commit Rebecca Ripley (Stratham, NH) from the New Hampton School, Trinity College commit Peace Kabari (Manchester, NH) of Phillips Exeter Academy, sophomore Chyna Bullen (Exeter, NH) from Bradford Christian Academy and Saint Michael's commit Casey Evans (Londonderry, NH) of St. Andrew's School all played in their respective class' all-star game.

In the Class C title game, Proctor jumped out to a 16-2 lead to start the game and that was the difference. Lexington Christian tried to fight to get back in it, but they were playing from behind all game and that deficit was too big to come back from. Proctor's 'Big Three' of Torres, Ngalakulondi and Amber Wilson nwas too much for Lexington Christian to handle.

Torres pushed it hard up the floor in transition and dished it to Ngalakulondi for a strong finish. On the next trip down Torres made a nice nice dish for an assist, this time with Wilson finishing. Torres drove the lane and hit a floater, and then Torres drove the lane and dished it to Ngalakulondi for a layup.

Ngalakulondi finished an and-1, then ripped an offensive rebound for a strong put-back. Torres made a nice steal, passed the ball, got it back and slashed to the rim for a nifty finish in traffic. Ngalakulondi had another and-1, then she made a nice pass inside to Wilson for 2.

Ngalakulondi again crashed the offensive boards, went up strong with it, got fouled and hit both free throws. Torres grabbed an offensive rebound as well, got fouled and hit a pair of FTs.

Then Lexington Christian made a run in the 2nd half to cut the Proctor lead to just 7. They amde the run with Wilson on the bench with foul trouble. That's when Torres took over, doing what she does best - penetrate a defense and create offense off the dribble. On 3 possessions in a row she took it to the rim and hit floaters in the lane. Then Torres made a great crossover to get in the lane and then dished it to a teammate for a layup. Torres made another nice pass, this one from up top, finding Ngalakulondi inside, who went up strong and got fouled.

"With Amber on the bench with foul trouble In knew I had to step up" said Torres.

Ngalakulondi took over late, with three more strong finishes inside - two of them on put-backs and the other was a layup off a press break. Ngalakulondi has good hands - she catches everything inside and she is a strong finisher, with either hand and through contact as well. Then she made a nice block on 'D', Torres iced the game with some free throws and Proctor wins it 61-45.

"I want to thank my teammates, they've been helpful" said Ngalakulondi. "I've worked really hard. Coach has believed in me."

Ngalakulondi finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Torres tallied 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals. Ngalakulondi will be a D-I college player, no question about it. As long as she keeps working she has a very high ceiling. Already one of the most dominating inside players in New England and only a freshman. As for Torres, she is definitely a scholarship level prospect as well. Her game is a lot like former Bishop Guertin standout Jamie Sherburne, who is now playing at D-I Niagara. Like Sherburne, Torres is a 5'6"/5'7" point guard who excels at penetrating a defense and making plays off the dribble, either taking it all the way to the rim, hitting floaters or dishing it off. Torres knows how to run an offense, control tempo, loves to push the ball and is a great play maker in transition. Ngalakulondi and Torres don't have any offers yet, but they will start coming in very soon. Eacrett is also one of the top local players from the Class of 2019.

As soon as the Proctor girls got their championship trophy, Tilton and Berkshire started warming up for the Class B title game. Hunter starts for Tilton, while Kimball and Berube are their first 2 players off the bench. It shows how deep and talented the Rams are that they have 2 potential scholarship players (Kimball and Berube) coming off the bench.

Early in the 1st half Hunter took it strong to the rim on the break for an and-1 finish. She finished with 7 points, while Kimball chipped in with 6. Berube has a brace on her knee but for a kid who tore her ACL 12 months ago she was moving well out there.

Kimball converted a put-back, and Tilton took a commanding 38-18 lead. Berkshire came back though, and closed to within 40-31 at halftime. The Rams lead stayed around 10-15 points the whole 2nd half. Hunter took it strong inside for 2, Kimball finished a layup in transition and Tilton held on for the 62-52 win. This was Tilton's fourth title in the last six years.

Kimball picked up her first offer from SNHU last year, and recently she took a visit to D-I St. Francis in New York and landed an offer from them as well.

In the all-star games, Ripley, Kabari, Bullen and Evans all played well. At 5-foot-11, Ripley is very versatile with the ability play inside or out. At one point she used a crossover dribble to free herself up for a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line. Kabari is only 5-foot-6 but plays much bigger as she has great leaping ability and athleticism. She also showed the ability to hit shots off the dribble. Meanwhile, Bullen is also a versatile player at 5-foot-10 with a strong inside-outside game. She pulled down boards, finished inside with either hand and also ran the point at times.

It was good to see so many talented local players in action. All of these kids will be playing college ball, and they all have bright futures ahead of them.

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